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    Fred Stopsky


    The word “reform” suggests the speakers seek fundamental changes in the American education system. At the end of the day, both essentially maintain the same curriculum although they might differ on how to evaluate what was learned. Neither offers a vision concerning what form of education fits the needs of humans in the 21st century. Neither presents which basic skills or attitudes are essential for success in the 21st century. My metaphor is a group of highly qualified automobile workers who have enthusiasm and motivation to create cars but they are building a car that gets 15 miles per gallon and no one is interested in buying it. Education reform must begin by rethinking what constitutes a 21st century education and the manner is which it is learned.
    There are millions of well fed, well clothed and well housed children who see scant meaning to what is learned in schools. We are entering a fourth revolution in education– the first was 80,000 years ago when speech and visual means of communication arose, the second was 6,000 years ago when reading and writing arose, the third was 200 years ago when state organized schooling began—and we in education must conceptualize how the 4th Revolution, which is technology driven and allows youth to be both receivers and creators of knowledge, becomes a reality.
    At this point, those who want more tests term themselves “reformers” and those who oppose testing say they are “reformers.” Those who believe the issue is lack of qualified teachers say they are “reformers” and those who believe the issue is lack of money pose as “reformers.” Those who believe the issue is the need for “standards” say they are reformers, and those who have a different way to measure standards say they are “reformers.” The other day I met a man who wanted “reform of education” which in his view would come about if we had a new method of teaching spelling. Frankly, the word “reform” should be banned from the English language until someone actually describes a paradigm shift in how youth is educated in the 21st century.


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